The Slatest
Your News Companion

July 26 2017 11:22 AM

Expelling Transgender Troops Is a Clever Way to Motivate Bigoted Midwestern Voters, White House Explains Proudly

 

Donald Trump announced the (apparent) expulsion of all transgender individuals from the U.S. military Wednesday morning on Twitter:

Screenshot/Twitter

Advertisement

Despite the reasoning and alleged consultation cited in those tweets, reporting indicates that the actual people who run the military were not made aware of this policy, such as it is, before it was announced:

A White House official, meanwhile, explained the move to Axios' Jonathan Swan in terms of 2018 electoral strategy:

A report by the Williams Institute, which is affiliated with UCLA's law school, estimates that 15,500 transgender individuals "are serving on active duty or in the Guard or Reserve forces" in the United States. A back-of-the-envelope calculation indicates that's about 0.7 percent of all active duty/Guard/Reserve personnel.

Nothing says military focus and careful consultation like jerking around 1 percent of your fighting force with a random surprise announcement because you think mouth-breathing dopes in the Rust Belt will get riled up about it!

July 26 2017 12:07 AM

Senate GOP Fails to Pass Latest Repeal and Replace Bill. Now the Clock Is Ticking Towards “Skinny Repeal.”

Hours after narrowly voting to begin debating repeal of significant portions of Obamacare, the Senate voted down a Republican-backed overhaul of the health care system Tuesday night. The Better Care Reconciliation Act, with amendments by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would have paved the way for the partial repeal and replacement of Obamacare, but it failed to meet the 60-vote threshold needed. The bill fell well short, garnering only 43 Republican votes, with nine members of the Republican caucus voting with Democrats. The BCRA needed 60 votes, rather than the simple majority needed under the rules of reconciliation, because neither amendment had been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, such that there was no clear indication of how much they would cost to implement.

This week, the Republicans are expected to try again and again and again. Expect the party to mount several, perhaps many, ambitious, and some not so ambitious, attempts to take down Obama’s signature health care law that expanded access to health insurance by expanding Medicaid, requiring more employers to provide coverage, and setting up federal exchanges to allow individuals without employer-based health care to purchase subsidized coverage. The next vote in the Senate will likely be held Wednesday on a similar version of a Republican-written ACA repeal that Obama, predictably, vetoed in 2015.

Advertisement

Tuesday night’s BCRA vote and Wednesday’s expected vote on repeal are largely for show at this point as neither was expected to pass from the outset. Barring a late come-to-Jesus moment, where the Republicans come up with a new bill that isn’t outright toxic to the people they represent, the latest, greatest hope for the GOP increasingly looks like a move that's being called the “skinny repeal” option, which would remove the ACA’s mandates that individuals buy coverage and that employers with more than 50 employees provide coverage. “This ‘skinny repeal’ strategy would keep the overhaul effort alive but amount to a tacit acknowledgment that broader efforts to revise or repeal the law cannot succeed, even as Republicans control both Congress and the White House,” according to the Washington Post.

July 26 2017 12:05 AM

Watch President Trump Almost Get Through a Tribute to a Vet Without Talking About Himself. Almost.

The President of the United States was in Ohio on Tuesday ostensibly running for president again, approximately 4,000 days before the next election, while frequently talking about the last election, which he totally won. During a stop in Struthers, Ohio Tuesday evening, Trump and the First Lady were on hand for a veterans’ event called a Salute to American Heroes. During the event, Trump turned his attention to WWII veteran Robert Bishop for a tribute. Simple enough, a nice gesture, the type of thing presidents do everyday while in office.

Unlike most presidents, however, Trump only got, oh say, halfway through recounting Bishop’s service record when he got distracted by the word Ohio and launched, again, for the billionth time, into talking about his electoral victory last November! It was a truly astounding moment of unconscious selfishness displayed by the president that has become so common it almost goes unnoticed. Almost.

Advertisement

Here’s a transcript of the remarks:

POTUS: I’d like to honor one such hero who is with us tonight: Robert M. Bishop. (Applause.) He looks good.
Nearly 76 years ago, Bob was a gunner aboard the USS Tennessee in Pearl Harbor and when the Japanese bombs struck the turrets of that once-great ship… During the attack, Bob was below the deck at his battle station for four excruciating hours of fire and hell. Five of his crewmembers never made it off the ship, giving their last breath in this courageous and incredible service to our country.
Bob stayed with his ship after the attack. And once it was repaired—which went, actually, much faster than it goes today, folks—you’ll have to explain that one, folks. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: And it cost less.
POTUS: It cost a lot less. (Laughter.) He served on the Tennessee for another four-and-a-half years, fighting in some of the greatest engagements in the Pacific Ocean.
After World War II, Bob and his wife Doris moved back to Ohio. Good choice, Bob. That is a good choice. I love this state. Remember at the beginning, they always said, there is no victory without Ohio. Right, Mr. Chairman? Boy, did we win Ohio. Right? Remember? (Applause.) And it wasn’t like it was close. That was a—that was a big one.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you.
POTUS: Thank you. Thank you very much. Where Bob served in the Navy Reserve and also worked in the steel industry for over 50 years.

Remember?

July 25 2017 9:14 PM

Nearly the Entire House Voted to Impose New Russia Sanctions and Curtail Trump’s Power to Lift Them

The House approved a raft of new sanctions against Russia Tuesday that included explicit restrictions on President Trump’s ability to modify or lift the sanctions without congressional approval. The 419-3-vote in support of financial sanctions restricting Russia’s ability to do business with American entities, as well as the targeting of key Russian officials for election meddling, sets up what could be the first substantive bipartisan bill out of this congress and puts the Trump White House in the uncomfortable position of swallowing increased penalties on Moscow, after promising warmer relations with the longtime American adversary. The measure also reveals an underlying mistrust, even amongst the president’s own party, for Trump’s decision-making on Russia-related matters.

The bill essentially makes into law the sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama, increases penalties on Russia's activities in Ukraine, and requires President Trump to certify that Russia has changed its behavior before they can be lifted. The latest iteration of the bill also includes new sanctions on North Korea and Iran in response to their weapons programs, giving the White House a modicum of political cover for the Russia-themed legislative rebuke that was agreed to by the leadership of both parties last week. The bill now moves to the Senate where it is also expected to pass with very little opposition. The Senate passed a similar bill last month 97-2, but was scraped due to a procedural issue, and will almost certainly send the new legislation to the White House with a veto-proof congressional backing.

Advertisement

“The Senate has not yet had the chance to vet the sanctions against Pyongyang, but Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters Monday that he expects the House bill to pass the Senate, with ‘minor details’ about procedure still to be worked out,” the Washington Post reports. “Corker said he was exploring ways to ensure the bill would be sent to Trump before the end of the week, when House members are set to leave Washington for a five-week recess.”

July 25 2017 7:00 PM

McCain's Sorkinesque Speech After Advancing a Bill That Could Kill Thousands Was a Joke

On Tuesday afternoon, cancer-stricken Sen. John McCain returned to the Senate to cast a critical vote on moving forward with Trumpcare and delivered a Sorkinesque speech defending the Senate's procedural norms. But he gave this speech after voting against those very norms, helping to advance a bill that has been crafted without public hearings, that lacks an up-to-date score on its impact from the Congressional Budget Office, and whose current text has yet to be released to the very senators voting to hurry it along, let alone the American people.

Naturally, McCain made a point of criticizing the secrecy surrounding Trumpcare in a section of the speech in which he emphasized that he would not be supporting the bill's current form:

We tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration. Then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them that it's better than nothing. That it's better than nothing? Asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. I don't think that's going to work in the end and it probably shouldn't.
Advertisement

As McCain knows, it very well might now that he's cast a critical vote on the motion to proceed to debate. But if the prospect—as laid out by some of the best available estimates—of 22 million Americans becoming uninsured and tens of thousands of those Americans dying thanks, in part, to his acquiescence troubled him, McCain didn't let it show. He cracked self-deprecating jokes in the right places: "I've had so many people say such nice things about me recently. I think some of you must have me confused with someone else." He thundered in support of a return to the Senate's regular order and bipartisanship. And he warned his colleagues not to cave to the demands of the "bombastic loudmouths on the radio, and television, and the internet."

One of those loudmouths is now the president of the United States, a man whose agenda McCain has supported in more than 90 percent of relevant Senate votes. His own support for the president's priorities didn't stop McCain from arguing that Congress shouldn't kowtow to Trump's wishes. "Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president's subordinates," he said. "We're his equal. As his responsibilities are onerous...so are ours."

A survey of McCain's career suggests he has long considered his prime responsibility the securing of his own canonization as a fiercely independent statesman while largely supporting the Republican Party line. He has achieved this mainly through a half-handful of important moderate votes (several of which are more than a decade old), an insatiable hunger for American military intervention (which began falling out of fashion in the Republican Party somewhere between the 3,000th and 4,000th American military casualty in Iraq), and selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate for his 2008 presidential run (a move that kicked open the doors to the gaping political hell in which we now live). Throughout his speech Tuesday, as throughout his career, McCain nevertheless worked to convince political observers that he's a paragon of neutral reason, bravely defending our ideals and procedural norms in a frenzied, hyperpartisan era.

That is not who John McCain is. John McCain is a Republican politician, one who has voted with his party roughly 87 percent of the time since he entered the Senate. He has now voted to proceed with a hook or crook effort to pass a bill that will threaten access to healthcare for millions of Americans because that is what his Republican Party wants to do. His work done, he begins his exit from the political stage with two distinct privileges: First, access to the kind of medicine that millions of Americans may soon lack partially as a consequence of his actions. Second, the respect of journalists and Democrats who, quite literally, applauded him Tuesday afternoon, grateful as they were to see the Maverick in dramatic action perhaps one last time.

July 25 2017 5:52 PM

Did Ron Johnson Almost Torpedo the Motion to Proceed?

Shortly before noon, reporters caught Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson on the Senate subway platform and informed him of “skinny repeal,” the last-ditch option leaders were using to entice Republican senators to support the motion to proceed on health care reform. Skinny repeal, which will come up during the amendment process if/when all other repeal or repeal-and-replace bills fail, would repeal Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates and medical device tax, while leaving the rest in place.

“That would be rather unsatisfying from my standpoint,” Johnson said.

Advertisement

But would it be better than nothing?

Johnson was silent for a while, and then just shook his head.

“Report ‘just shook his head,’” he said.

The depth of Johnson’s indecision on the motion to proceed was underestimated by fellow colleagues, reporters—even by Mitch McConnell. A few hours later, Johnson was arguing with the majority leader on the Senate floor, right in the middle of the motion to proceed vote, about whether or not he could support it. He eventually came around, after some of the longest minutes of McConnell’s life.

McConnell and Johnson have a poor relationship. Johnson is reportedly still fuming at McConnell for abandoning his reelection contest last fall as a lost cause. Johnson, who was not expected to raise as much of a fuss during the repeal debate as he has, threatened several revisions of the bill over the last few months, and is freewheeling in his criticism of McConnell. He appears to have decided to spend his second term trolling McConnell.

It was assumed, once leaders dangled “skinny repeal” as a vehicle for punting the process into a House-Senate conference committee and several holdouts came onboard, that McConnell would have the votes when he got to the floor. McConnell may have thought that too. Instead, he had about 49 and one-half.

Once protesters were removed from the chamber—though their chants of “kill the bill!” could be heard from outside throughout the vote—the vote began. The Health and Human Service Secretary, Tom Price, was watching from the back; Vice President Mike Pence, who had his script in the event of a tie typed out in large font before him, presided.

None of the Democrats voted until all of the Republicans had finished. Maine Sen. Susan Collins voted “no,” but West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito—who kept her secrecy until shortly before the vote—voted “yes.” Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, and all of the other undecideds signed off on the motion; Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski did not. That made two defections, the maximum McConnell could sustain. After the first roll call, Republicans were stuck on 46 ayes; eventually Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan rolled in and brought it to 48.

And then there was a long, long wait. Where were Ron Johnson and John McCain?

Reporters are not allowed to bring their phones or computers into the Senate gallery, and are left to read expressions instead of tweets. McConnell and majority whip John Cornyn began to talk to each other as the vote lingered. The mood loosened as it was clear no one was going anywhere. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul walked over to Capito and rubbed her shoulder after she’d cast a tough vote. Heller and Flake, the two most endangered Senate Republicans in 2018, struck up a conversation. Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who are both quite old, appeared on the verge of dozing off.

Rumors abounded about Johnson’s whereabouts. One reporter came into the gallery and said that he had just talked to Johnson at the subway—the one leaving the Capitol. Was Johnson fleeing the scene?

Johnson appeared at last and made a beeline to McConnell, who smiled upon seeing him. Within about ten seconds, McConnell was no longer smiling. I cannot be certain, but the only words I believe I made out from McConnell’s mouth were “you’re kidding me,” near the beginning of their chat. For ten or so minutes, McConnell and Johnson spoke to each other with Cornyn drifting in and out. It seemed that McConnell was trying to explain something to Johnson, who wasn’t quite getting it, and vice versa.

Their conversation came to an end when McCain arrived to a standing ovation. McCain came through, greeted Republican leaders, hugged Schumer, and voted yes. Right afterwards, Johnson voted yes, too, and the motion had 50 votes.

After the vote, Johnson tried to make it sound as if he and McConnell were just having some benign conversation while they waited for McCain.

“I was just talking about how I wanted to continue to be a positive influence on getting as good a result as possible as we move forward with this,” he told reporters.

Cornyn’s recollection of the floor conversation did not quite align with Johnson’s. “Well, Senator Johnson, like others, has had some objections to the process, which is admittedly cumbersome, because [we’ve had] no Democratic cooperation [and] you have to do it under the budget reconciliation rules, so it’s frustrating for everybody,” Cornyn told reporters. “I think he was just expressing some of his frustration.” When a reporter asked Cornyn whether he had been worried that Johnson would vote no, he didn’t give a direct answer. “Um, well, like I said, we knew we had no margin for error.”

I asked Johnson if he had already made up his mind to vote “yes” before he came to the floor, since, according to him, he and McConnell were just talking about how to be productive going forward. He was silent for a while, and then cracked a smile.

“You always have your options,” he said.

When another reporter asked him what, then, pushed him into the “yes” column, he conceded that McCain’s appearance had an effect. He had no idea when McCain would show up. But after McCain voted yes, Johnson knew he was the last person standing. “You know, that would have been a pretty tough ‘no’ vote,” he said. “So I was happy to join Senator McCain.”

If Johnson really does want to just stick it to McConnell in the end, he will have further opportunities, especially on the “skinny repeal” amendment a couple of days down the road. But if he couldn’t get himself pumped enough to do it today, it’s doubtful he’ll be brave enough tomorrow.

July 25 2017 5:20 PM

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Trump Takes Revenge on His Political Allies and Voters, for Some Reason

 

In the tradition of the Clintonometer and the Trump Apocalypse Watch, the Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

Advertisement

Tuesday morning, Donald Trump attacked attorney general Jeff Sessions on Twitter. Later in the day, he attacked Sessions at a press conference. This has been going on for days now, and the right-wing politicians and pundits who share Sessions' nativist/nationalist worldview are starting to publicly grumble about the way he's being treated.

Tuesday afternoon, the procedural Obamacare repeal vote that Trump has publicly pressed Republican senators to vote "yes" on passed, which means Congress is one step closer to passing legislation that will screw over millions of working-class voters, including the white ones that were so important to Trump's electoral college victory.

Alienating one's most crucial allies and voters seems like a good way to erode the support one would need to defend oneself during impeachment proceedings, one might say if one wrote a daily column interpreting all events through an impeachment-colored lens. Let's raise the meter!

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

July 25 2017 3:35 PM

Senate Republicans Pass “Motion to Proceed” on Affordable Care Act Repeal

 

By a 51–50 vote, Republicans have passed a "motion to proceed" that allows the Senate to begin consideration of the Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan that passed the House of Representatives in May. The deciding vote was cast by Vice President Mike Pence; Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski were the only Republican members to vote against the motion. Republican Sen. John McCain returned to Washington just days after announcing he's been diagnosed with brain cancer to cast a "yes" vote.

Advertisement

What happens next is that the Senate will debate health care reform (or, rather, give perfunctory speeches about it) for 20 hours—breaks are allowed—before voting on "amendments" to the House's bill. These "amendments" can be entirely new bills meant to completely take the place of what the House passed, and any senator can propose them. The meaningful amendments, though, are those endorsed by Republican leaders, and on that front, there is uncertainty: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet released final text for the Better Care Reconciliation Act repeal-and-replace bill that his caucus has been working on for weeks. Moreover, the BCRA amendment/bill will likely need 60 votes to pass rather than 50 because it is expected to include provisions that haven't been approved by the Senate parliamentarian for use in the reconciliation process.

So the BCRA is not currently expected to pass. McConnell's ultimate "amendement" plan, then, is reportedly to try to propose something called "skinny repeal," which would eliminate the ACA's mandates that large employers must provide insurance to their employees and that individuals who aren't covered by employers must buy insurance through state marketplaces. It's not even clear that this Plan C will pass, and it would possibly be a marketplace-ruining "death spiral" disaster if it became law—but as Slate's Jordan Weissmann explains, it's actually only being proposed so that the Senate will have passed a piece of health care legislation that could then be synthesized with the House's American Health Care Act via a "conference committee." Both chambers would then have to vote to approve whatever the conference committee came up with.

In other words, we might have a long way to go on this, still.

July 25 2017 1:53 PM

The Origin of Trump’s Weird Sex Yacht Anecdote in His Boy Scout Speech

President Trump cursed mildly, taunted President Obama, and reminisced at length about Nov. 8 (“that incredible night with the maps”) while speaking to a crowd of Boy Scouts in West Virginia on Monday night. But one of the strangest passages in the speech at the Scouts’ annual National Jamboree was an anecdote about Trump seeing the real estate developer William Levitt at a party hosted by another developer, Steve Ross. It’s the kind of story Trump loves to tell, but is it true?

Levitt was the creator of midcentury housing developments known for affordable and nearly identical houses. The original Levittown, on Long Island, was popular among returning World War II veterans, and notorious for its refusal to accept applications from anyone other than whites. For Trump, however, Levitt’s story is meaningful primarily as an illustration of what happens when a great businessman makes the fatal error of “losing momentum,” which I guess he thinks is a good lesson for Boy Scouts to learn.

Advertisement

In his speech on Monday, Trump rambled his way through a summary of Levitt’s career and personal life: His spectacular rise, the sale of his company to a New York conglomerate, his purchase of a yacht, his ensuing “very interesting life” (“You’re Boy Scouts so I'm not going to tell you what he did”), his repurchase of the company, and ultimately his bankruptcy. Years later, Trump’s story goes, he saw William Levitt, former titan of real estate, at a cocktail party:

And it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party. It was the party of Steve Ross—Steve Ross, who was one of the great people. … And I was doing well, so I got invited to the party. I was very young. And I go in, but I'm in the real estate business, and I see a hundred people, some of whom I recognize, and they're big in the entertainment business.
And I see sitting in the corner was a little old man who was all by himself. Nobody was talking to him. I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt, of Levittown, and I immediately went over. I wanted to talk to him more than the Hollywood, show business, communications people.
So I went over and talked to him, and I said, “Mr. Levitt, I'm Donald Trump.” He said, "I know." I said, "Mr. Levitt, how are you doing?" He goes, "Not well, not well at all." And I knew that. But he said, "Not well at all." And he explained what was happening and how bad it's been and how hard it's been. And I said, "What exactly happened? Why did this happen to you? You're one of the greats ever in our industry. Why did this happen to you?” And he said, "Donald, I lost my momentum. I lost my momentum."

Trump has told versions of the story before, including last year at a speech at a Catholic college in Wisconsin, in which he referred to Levitt’s wife as “La Belle.” (Levitt’s yacht, La Belle Simone, was named after his wife Simone.) The anecdote also appears in his 2004 book Trump: How to Get Rich. (The book was written “with” Meredith McIver, the longtime Trump Organization staffer who took the fall for Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech at the Republican National Convention last summer.) The chapter “Maintain Your Momentum” is less than a page-and-a-half long, and it consists entirely of the Levitt story. In the 1950s, Trump writes, Levitt “was the king.” He scoured his work sites for nails and wood chips to make sure nothing went to waste, and he eventually sold his company for the equivalent of billions. Then, alas, he retired, “married the wrong woman,” squandered years on the Riviera, and so on. Again, Trump arrives at the fateful party:

I saw William Levitt at a cocktail party in 1994, two weeks before he died. He was standing by himself in a corner, looking defeated. I didn’t know him well, but I approached him, hoping to acquire some wisdom from the master. “Mr. Levitt,” I said, “how are you doing?”
“Not good, Donald, not good.” Then he said the words I’ll never forget. “I lost my momentum. I was out of the world for twenty years, I came back, and I wasn’t the same.”

There are small differences between the two stories, and between each story and the historical record. In the Jamboree speech, Trump is a “very young” man who brashly introduces himself to the older developer. In the book, he is 47 years old and already an acquaintance of Levitt’s. In the book, Trump writes that the party took place two weeks before Levitt’s death. But Levitt’s 1994 obituary in the New York Times reported that he had been at a Long Island hospital for the last 18 months of his life. He entered the hospital after suffering a ruptured intestine and died of a progressive kidney disease, which makes his appearance at a swank Manhattan cocktail party mere weeks before his death seem somewhat unlikely.

Did Levitt really dispense a perfectly packaged nugget of Business Wisdom to the upstart 47-year-old just before he died? Did the party even take place? Who knows. We do know, however, that Trump has a long history of mangling facts and distorting details. The important thing is that he’s maintaining his momentum.

July 25 2017 1:02 PM

Even Trump’s Allies Are Freaked Out by the Way He’s Humiliating Jeff Sessions

 

Donald Trump attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions—as in, the attorney general who Trump nominated to his position and who reports to Trump—yet again Tuesday morning on Twitter. New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is telling anyone who asks that Trump probably wishes Sessions would quit and/or cease to exist. The Times' Maggie Haberman reports that Trump is letting Sessions twist in the wind, rather than firing him, simply to torment him.

Advertisement

What POTUS is upset about is that Sessions recused himself from Russia-related issues at the Department of Justice during the controversy over his failure to disclose 2016 conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States. (Presumably, in Trump's mind, an unrecused Sessions would never have OK'd the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who was in fact named to his post by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein after Trump fired James Comey.) Trump is also apparently angry that Sessions isn't investigating Hillary Clinton's private email server situation even though 1) it was already investigated by the DOJ/FBI in 2016, and 2) Trump himself said after being elected that he did not want to see Clinton's case pursued further.

Given that the Russia mess is 99 percent Trump's own doing, this is petty behavior even by his own standards—made even more so by Sessions' status as Trump's closest political and ideological ally in the Republican Party. Sessions was the first major Republican figure to endorse Trump in 2016, an endorsement from which Sessions never wavered even during "pussy"-gate, and the president has adopted many of the former Alabama senator's ethno-nationalist policy positions. The only actual proactive initiatives the Trump administration has made "progress" on, such as it is, have involved favorite Sessions subjects like immigration and voting rights. There's probably no one in the administration who's demonstrated more loyalty to Trump except the members of his own family.

Sessions himself is said to be "totally pissed" about the betrayal, and other typically stalwart Trump allies—especially those on the hard-right end of the Republican spectrum—are upset as well. Rush Limbaugh called Trump's attacks on Sessions "discomforting" and "unseemly," while white nationalist Iowa Congressman Steve King tweeted that Trump's agenda would be "crippled"without the AG. Breitbart, the site once run by White House senior adviser Steve Bannon, published a piece Monday that said Sessions' firing or resignation "would be a devastating blow to the prestige and prominence of the nationalist-populist underpinnings of the wider Trump movement." Here's Breitbart's current home page:

screen_shot_20170725_at_1.04.38_pm

Right-wing pundit Erick Erickson (who is, himself, a longtime Trump critic) reports that a current Trump Cabinet secretary described the situation in the White House as a "clusterfuck" and says that multiple top officials are disturbed by it:

“If he can get treated that way, what about the rest of us?” one of the President’s Cabinet secretaries asked me with both shock and anger in his voice. I am told reports about Rex Tillerson (not who I talked to) are legitimate. He is quite perturbed with the President’s treatment of his Attorney General and is ready to quit. Secretary Mattis (also not who I talked to) is also bothered by it.

(Have these guys been under a rock for Donald Trump's entire life, by the way? He will definitely do this to you too eventually, you dummies!)

Politicians stab their mentors/allies in the back all the time, of course, but they typically do so in order to gain political standing. Trump, in his usual pioneering way, is flipping the script by attacking his own already-tenuous base of support. He's not throwing Sessions under the bus, in other words, so much as he's driving it over his own nose to spite his face.

READ MORE STORIES